Nel's New Day

February 14, 2013

One Billion Rising Fights Violence against Women & Girls

For years, February 14 was known as “V” Day for those who could not bring themselves to say “vagina.” Written by Eve Ensler 17 years ago, The Vagina Monologues is a play in which women discuss feminist topics, emphasizing how the vagina empowers women and addressing women’s views on physical and emotional sexuality. On the 15th anniversary of V-Day, Ensler has initiated the One Billion Rising campaign to protest violence against women.

At some time during their lives, one in three women are subject to violence—domestic abuse, gang rape, female genital mutiliation, war, etc.  Half of the seven billion global population are women. That means that one billion women alive now will be, or have been, subjected to violence.

Joanne Tosti-Vasey wrote that the violence against women may be even more pervasive. The United Nations reported that the percentage may be as high as 70 percent of women and girls who experience sexual or physical violence during their lifetime. “Among women ages 15-44, the incidence of this form of violence – mostly perpetrated by husbands, intimate partners, or people the women know – accounts for more disability and deaths than occur from cancer, malaria, traffic accidents, and war combined.”

Today flash mobs, dancers, and other artistic expressions around the world gave vision to unifying events designed to “Break the Chain” of violence against women and girls. “Violence is like climate change,” said Connie Madden, one of the participants. “People do not want to look at it. We need to shine a light on the violence and change what we do. Instead of the growing cultural clashes around the world, we need to find ways to come together as one human race, rather than warring tribes.”

This February 14th may have brought the largest art event in history, including the beautiful posters and videos easily available online.

Jasmine Whitbread wrote,

“Violence against women begins with violence against girls. In many countries, this begins even before birth — estimates suggest that there are more than 100 million ‘missing women’ as a result of sex-selective abortions.

“For far too many girls this violence continues through childhood. In its most obvious forms, that means that millions of girls face being victims of sexual violence, female genital mutilation and forced into early marriages. In the next decade more than 100 million girls are expected to be married before they reach 18. Early marriage increases the likelihood of early pregnancy and that substantially increases a child’s risk of ill-health and even death. Babies born to girls in their teens face a 50 percent higher risk of dying before age one than babies born to women in their 20s.

“But violence comes in less obvious forms too. Excess female childhood mortality is on the rise in several areas of the world. Globally, there are 107 female child deaths for every 100 deaths amongst male children. Often because of a lower value put on them girls eat last (and least) in vulnerable households around the world and have less access to healthcare than boys. Gender discrimination towards women is inseparably linked to child survival–studies have repeatedly shown that the mortality, health and well-being of children are intimately linked to the health of their mothers.”

Ensler said,

“I think it’s really important that when we dance, we think about what dance is and why dance is important. I think most of us women, we don’t wear what we want. We don’t go where we want at any time of the day. We don’t move the way we want because we are always afraid at some level of being attacked or harassed or hurt or raped or invaded. And when we dance on the 14 th the whole idea is we break out of this cage of patriarchy, of fear, of intimidation, and we blast open the boundaries that have kept ourselves, kept our creativity, kept our vision, kept our bodies in prison.”

Even if you didn’t join a flash mob or dance group, wear One Billion Rising colors red and black tomorrow to keep the spirit of the day alive. Tell everyone you know about this problem—especially the 22 male GOP senators who have just voted against the passage of the Violence against Women Act. And tell people about the five male senators who refused to endorse an amendment that would ban human trafficking.

Over one billion women in the world suffer from violence. This is unacceptable.

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